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Swatch Makes the Most of Its Air Time

AD REVIEWS: Ads are rated from $ to $$$$, based on tastefulness and probable effectiveness, with $$$$ being highest.

April 16, 1998|DENISE GELLENE

Advertiser: Swatch

Agency: Barbella Gagliardi Saffirio DMB&B, Milan

Challenge: Associate the Swatch watch, a mass-produced item that comes in many styles, with individuality.

The Ad: A television spot, created for European audiences but currently airing here, asks, "How long is a Swatch minute?" Words superimposed over a series of vignettes supply the answer. For a thoughtful-looking student sitting in a classroom, it's 40 minutes long. For a young man waiting (why isn't clear), a minute lasts an hour. When an athletic-looking woman peers into the night sky through a telescope, it lasts 1,000 light-years. The ad shows people of different races, ages, gender--plus Olympic track star Michael Johnson and supermodel Tyra Banks. The ad ends with the legend: "Time is what you make of it."

Comment: The ad plays on the idea that the passage of time is relative. The approach helps bring out the concept of individuality because each character in the ad has a different experience. Many advertisers use ads that consist of a series of vignettes. But in the Swatch ad, each vignette has a message that makes you take notice--helping Swatch stand apart from similarly styled ads. The moody soundtrack "Breathe" by European recording artist Midge Ure slows time to a comfortable pace. $$$

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